David Berkman: Old Friends and New Friends | Album Review

Fri, May 8, 2015, 00:00


Old Friends and New Friends

David Berkman



With old friends such as producer Matt Balitsaris, who needs new ones?

David Berkman recorded a run of excellent albums for Palmetto, Balitsaris’s fertile New York label, back in the late 1990s but it’s now more than 10 years since the pianist released any studio recording of his own music.

The drought ends in emphatic style here with compositions for a superbly balanced sextet, recorded in pristine beauty at the producer’s Maggie’s Farm studio.

Three very under-rated saxophonists – Dayna Stephens, Billy Drewes and Adam Kolker – and sure-footed bassist Linda Oh all deliver on the promise of the leader’s tunes, but it’s the other old friend in attendance, the incomparable Brian Blade on drums, whose undulating grooves and sense of drama really set Berkman’s combustible tunes ablaze.